Grief Specialist

Wellness Road Psychology
Psychologists located in Midtown East, New York, NY & Tarrytown, NY

Are you struggling to find your way through the haze of grief? You’re not alone. This uncharted territory can feel isolating, but understanding your grief and identifying ways to navigate the journey are crucial steps. At Wellness Road Psychology, you’ll find insights into the nature of grief, recognize its many forms, and learn tangible strategies to help you move forward.

Key Takeaways

  • Grief is a multi-faceted emotional response to loss that affects us not just emotionally but physically and spiritually, causing a range of symptoms like inflammation, sleep disturbances, and questioning of beliefs.

  • There are different types of grief, such as anticipatory grief and disenfranchised grief, each with its unique experiences and challenges, which can lead to a range of emotional and physical symptoms.

  • Professional counseling, like the services offered at Wellness Road Psychology, uses evidence-based treatments such as CBT and CGT to support individuals and families in navigating grief and its impact on mental health.

Grief

Understanding Grief: A Natural Response to Loss

Grief, characterized as intense emotional pain, is a difficult emotional journey triggered when someone or something we hold dear is lost. This intense grief, sometimes referred to as traumatic grief, can cause a whirlwind of painful emotions, including:

  • shock

  • anguish

  • guilt

  • loneliness

These feelings can lead to a sense of withdrawal from our usual activities, potentially resulting from substance abuse.

However, grief’s impact extends beyond our emotional state. Acute grief can physically manifest, resulting in:

  • increased inflammation

  • weakened immunity

  • physical pain

  • sleep disturbances

  • appetite changes

  • fatigue

Interestingly, grief can even shake up our spirituality, prompting us to question our beliefs about life, death, and the hereafter.

The emotional impact of losing a loved one

The loss of a loved one can send shockwaves through our emotional landscape. Such a loss can trigger intense emotions, including:

  • sadness

  • anger

  • guilt

  • anxiety

It can also change our appetites and sleep patterns, and impact our bodies. The mental toll of grief can disrupt our daily routines, necessitating new ways to keep the relationship with the deceased alive. Sometimes, seeking help from a grief counselor can be instrumental in dealing with this disruption.

Healing, although gradual, is achievable. Despite the initial emotional pain severely impacting our happiness, it’s feasible to restore life’s satisfaction with time and support. Keep in mind that grief can trigger a plethora of conflicting emotions, and it’s perfectly natural for the healing process to be protracted.

Types of Grief: Recognizing Different Forms

Grief is not a uniform experience. It manifests in various forms, each bearing its unique characteristics and challenges. For instance, anticipatory grief is the grief felt in anticipation of a loss, such as when a loved one is terminally ill. This form of grief can stir up feelings of anger, anxiety, and guilt, making it hard to focus on anything else.

Conversely, disenfranchised or ‘hidden’ grief is a form often overlooked or invalidated by society. This can occur in situations where the loss isn’t socially recognized, leading to a lack of public support and requiring the person to grieve in silence. Comprehending these various forms of grief can equip us to navigate our grieving process more effectively and extend support to others.

Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is a particularly complex form of grief experienced before an impending loss. This pre-loss grieving process involves dealing with a mix of emotional reactions ranging from feeling down, numb, or in disbelief, to physical manifestations like fatigue, changes in sleep and eating habits, or memory issues.

Anticipatory grief can exact a significant emotional and physical toll. Individuals may experience:

  • intense sadness

  • fear

  • emotional instability

  • a constant preoccupation with the upcoming loss

Despite its challenges, anticipatory grief can also provide an opportunity for closure and preparation, making the eventual loss less shocking.

Disenfranchised Grief

Contrasting anticipatory grief, disenfranchised grief is characterized by the lack of societal recognition or validation of the loss. This could occur in situations where the loss doesn’t align with societal norms or expectations, making it difficult for individuals to publicly express their grief.

Lack of recognition of their loss may leave individuals grappling with disenfranchised grief feeling isolated, guilty, or angry. This lack of validation and support can significantly impact their mental health, leading to feelings of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Recognizing disenfranchised grief is key to providing appropriate support and acknowledgment to those experiencing this form of grief.

Symptoms and Stages of Grief

Grief can exhibit a plethora of emotional and physical symptoms, subject to change as individuals traverse different stages of the grieving process. Emotionally, grief can cause feelings of:

  • shock

  • numbness

  • intense sadness

  • denial

  • anger

  • guilt

  • helplessness

  • depression

  • yearning

At times, confusing emotions may seem to come from nowhere, leaving one overwhelmed and confused.

Physically, grief can cause symptoms such as:

  • tiredness

  • changes in appetite

  • sleep disturbances

  • physical pain

Recognizing these symptoms as an integral part of the grieving process and not a sign of weakness is essential. While we traverse the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – these symptoms may evolve, and it’s acceptable for the process to unfold at its own pace.

Emotional Symptoms

The emotional symptoms of grief are diverse and deeply personal. Individuals may experience feelings of:

  • sadness

  • guilt

  • anger

  • fear

  • a sense of being overwhelmed

These feelings are a natural response to loss, and it’s important to allow oneself to experience and express these emotions.

The intensity and duration of emotional symptoms can exhibit significant variations. Some individuals might be prone to:

  • intense crying spells

  • chronic sadness

  • feeling guilty or angry

  • feeling numb

There is no “right” way to grieve, and everyone’s grieving process is unique.

Physical Symptoms

Though grief is frequently linked with emotional pain, it can also present physical manifestations. Individuals may experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite. These symptoms can be a direct result of the intense emotional stress that grief can cause.

Grasping these physical symptoms is vital as they can influence a person’s daily life and general health. Recognizing these symptoms can help individuals take better care of their physical health during their grieving process, which in turn can support their emotional wellbeing.

Coping Strategies for Grief and Loss

The journey of coping with grief and loss is deeply personal, and strategies effective for one individual may not be applicable to another. However, there are several strategies that can aid in the grieving process. One of the core components of coping with grief is developing a set of skills that can help manage the emotional pain and start the healing process.

Ranging from maintaining a balanced diet to regular exercise, self-care assumes a vital role in managing grief. These strategies can help manage the stress of grief and positively impact one’s overall well-being. Bear in mind that grief doesn’t adhere to a set timeline, and taking the necessary time to heal is perfectly acceptable.

Seeking Support

Seeking support ranks among the most effective strategies for coping with grief. This can come from friends, family, or professional counselors. The support of loved ones can provide emotional comfort and a sense of solidarity during these challenging times.

Professional help, such as grief counseling, can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to process their emotions and navigate their grief. A counselor can provide:

  • Guidance

  • Validation

  • Tools to help individuals deal with their pain

  • Address underlying issues

  • Find ways to heal and move forward.

Self-Care During Grief

Another critical facet of coping with grief involves self-care. This involves:

  • Taking care of one’s physical health

  • Taking care of one’s emotional wellbeing

  • Allowing oneself to express emotions freely

  • Maintaining hobbies or activities that bring joy

These practices can provide a much-needed respite from the pain of loss.

Maintaining physical health is particularly crucial during this time as grieving can exacerbate inflammation, aggravate pre-existing health conditions, and compromise the immune system. Hence, maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise can help manage these physical effects and support overall wellbeing.

Grief Services at Wellness Road Psychology

At Wellness Road Psychology, we understand the confusing maze of emotions that grief can bring. Our team of professionals offers a range of grief services, providing compassionate support for individuals and families going through this challenging time.

Our approach to grief counseling incorporates a variety of evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT), tailored to the individual’s needs and circumstances.

Evidence-Based Treatments

Our therapists utilize evidence-based treatments to help clients navigate their grieving process. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, helps individuals identify and change upsetting thought patterns and develop healthier coping strategies.

Another effective treatment we offer is Complicated Grief Therapy (CGT), a specialized complicated grief treatment designed to help those dealing with intense and long-lasting grief, targeting the symptoms and assisting in the healing process.

Support for Family Members

We also acknowledge that grief impacts not just individuals, but also their families. Our services extend to family members affected by the loss, helping them understand and cope with their emotions.

Our approach includes:

  • Open conversations about the deceased

  • Acknowledging emotions

  • Looking after the wellbeing of the family

  • Providing support to others who are also grieving

We believe that maintaining a connection with family members can greatly assist in coping with grief.

Grief and Mental Health: Identifying When Professional Help is Needed

Identifying when grief becomes overwhelming or persistent is vital for seeking professional assistance and addressing potential mental health issues. Grief can cause feelings of depression and anxiety and disrupt daily routines, leading to conditions like prolonged grief disorder and complicated grief.

Understanding the distinction between normal and complicated grief is crucial. While normal grief involves dealing with emotions in a way that’s culturally expected, complicated grief is more intense and persistent, making it hard to focus on anything else. Persisting symptoms may signal the need to seek professional assistance.

Wellness Road Psychology for Grief Counseling and Services

Wellness Road Psychology offers:

  • Grief counseling for individuals and families

  • Compassionate approach to grief counseling

  • Trained professionals who design treatment plans around your unique needs and circumstances

  • Evidence-based treatments to facilitate the healing process

We are dedicated to aiding individuals and families journey through the complexities of grief.

Our services have received positive feedback from clients who have benefited from our empathetic and effective approach to grief counseling. We invite anyone struggling with grief to reach out to our team or book your first consultation with us. You are not alone, and help is available.